Monday paper: Impacts of climate variability on wetland salinization in the North American prairies


Nachshon U, Ireson A, van der Kamp G, Davies SR, Wheater HS. 2014. Impacts of climate variability on wetland salinization in the North American prairies. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 18, 1251-1263. DOI: 10.5194/hess-18-1251-2014.

Conceptual water flow paths (arrows) between two adjacent ponds in the prairie pothole region. Red line and arrows (1) indicate groundwater levels and flow paths, respectively, for dry conditions. Green line and arrows (2) indicate wet conditions where pond A is feeding pond B via the subsurface effective transmission zone. Blue lines and arrows (3) show wetter conditions with a mounded water table and flow diverging from a groundwater divide between the ponds. Gray arrows (4) show typical flow paths for snowmelt water over frozen soils, away from the topographic divide.
Conceptual water flow paths (arrows) between two adjacent ponds in the prairie pothole region. Red line and arrows (1) indicate groundwater levels and flow paths, respectively, for dry conditions. Green line and arrows (2) indicate wet conditions where pond A is feeding pond B via the subsurface effective transmission zone. Blue lines and arrows (3) show wetter conditions with a mounded water table and flow diverging from a groundwater divide between the ponds. Gray arrows (4) show typical flow paths for snowmelt water over frozen soils, away from the topographic divide.

Abstract

The glaciated plains of the North American continent, also known as the “prairies”, are a complex hydrological system characterized by hummocky terrain, where wetlands, containing seasonal or semi-permanent ponds, occupy the numerous topographic depressions. The prairie subsoil and many of its water bodies contain high salt concentrations, in particular sulfate salts, which are continuously cycled within the closed drainage basins. The period between 2000 and 2012 was characterized by an unusual degree of climatic variability, including severe floods and droughts, and this had a marked effect on the spatial distribution, water levels and chemical composition of wetland ponds. Understanding the geochemical and hydrological processes under changing environmental conditions is needed in order to better understand the risk and mitigate the impacts of future soil and water salinization.

Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) is an international two-stage open access journal for the publication of original research in hydrology, placed within a holistic Earth System Science context. The discussion and peer-review of submitted papers are handled in the open access discussion journal HESSD. Final papers, upon acceptance, appear in HESS (see Review Process under the heading Review).

HESS encourages and supports fundamental and applied research that seeks to understand the interactions between water, earth, ecosystems and man. A multi-disciplinary approach is encouraged that enables a broadening of the hydrologic perspective and the advancement of hydrologic science through the integration with other cognate sciences, and the cross-fertilization across disciplinary boundaries. HESS, therefore, has the ambition to serve not only the community of hydrologists, but all earth and life scientists, water engineers and water managers, who wish to publish original findings on the interactions between hydrological processes and other physical, chemical, biological and societal processes within the earth system, and the utilization of this holistic understanding towards sustainable management of water resources, water quality and water-related natural hazards.

The scope of HESS therefore encompasses:

  1. The role of physical, chemical and biological processes in the cycling of continental water in all its phases, including dissolved and particulate matter, at all scales, from the micro-scale processes of soil water to the global-scale processes underpinning hydro-climatology.
  2. The study of the spatial and temporal characteristics of the global water resources (solid, liquid and vapour) and related budgets, in all compartments of the Earth System (atmosphere, oceans, estuaries, rivers, lakes and land masses), including water stocks, residence times, interfacial fluxes, and the pathways between various compartments.
  3. The study of the interactions with human activity of all the processes, budgets, fluxes and pathways as outlined above, and the options for influencing them in a sustainable manner, particularly in relation to floods, droughts, desertification, land degradation, eutrophication, and other aspects of global change.

The journal will publish research articles, research and technical notes, opinion papers, book reviews, brief communications, and comments on papers published previously in HESS. Papers can address different techniques and approaches, including: theory, modelling, experiments or instrumentation. The journal covers the following Subject Areas and Techniques/Approaches, which are used to categorise papers:

Subject Areas:

  • Hillslope Hydrology;
  • Catchment Hydrology;
  • Global Hydrology;
  • Rivers and Lakes;
  • Coasts and Estuaries;
  • Hydrometeorology;
  • Vadose Zone Hydrology;
  • Groundwater Hydrology;
  • Ecohydrology;
  • Biogeochemical Processes;
  • Urban Hydrology;
  • Engineering Hydrology;
  • Water Resources Management.

Techniques and Approaches:

  • Theory Development;
  • Modelling Approaches;
  • Instruments and Observation Techniques;
  • Remote Sensing and GIS;
  • Mathematical Applications;
  • Stochastic Approaches;
  • Uncertainty Analysis.

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